God’s Transforming Word

“The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul” (Ps. 19:7).

God can transform you through His Word into the person He wants you to be.

Many today doubt the power of Scripture in dealing with the deeper aspects of the human heart and mind. The Bible may be helpful for certain superficial or “spiritual” problems, they say, but it’s too simplistic and inadequate for the more complex psychological issues of modern man. The truth is, however, the best psychology can do is modify external behavior. It cannot redeem and transform the soul. Only God can do that through the power of His Word.

That’s the truth behind Psalm 19:7, which calls Scripture “the law of the Lord,” thus emphasizing its didactic nature. It is the sum of God’s instruction to man, whether for creed (what we believe), character (what we are), or conduct (what we do).

The law of the Lord is “perfect.” That represents a common Hebrew word that speaks of wholeness, completeness, or sufficiency. Commentator Albert Barnes wrote that Scripture “lacks nothing [for] its completeness; nothing in order that it might be what it should be. It is complete as a revelation of Divine truth; it is complete as a rule of conduct. . . . It is absolutely true; it is adapted with consummate wisdom to the [needs] of man; it is an unerring guide of conduct. There is nothing there which would lead men into error or sin; there is nothing essential for man to know which may not be found there” (Notes on the Old Testament: Psalms, Vol. 1 [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1974], p. 171).

Man’s reasoning is imperfect, but God’s Word is perfect, containing everything necessary for your spiritual life. It is so comprehensive that it can restore your soul. That is, convert, revive, refresh, and transform every aspect of your being to make you precisely the person God wants you to be.

Don’t look to impotent human alternatives when God’s Word stands ready to minister to your every need. Spiritual warfare is fought with spiritual weapons, not fleshly techniques, theories, or therapies (2 Cor. 10:4).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask God to keep you focused on His counsel regarding every situation you face today.

For Further Study

  • Memorize 2 Corinthians 9:8 as a reminder of God’s super- abounding grace to you.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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Submitting to Divine Authority

“Listen, O heavens, and hear, O earth; for the Lord speaks” (Isa. 1:2).

God’s Word is the only source of divine authority.

We might assume that those who affirm the inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility of God’s Word would automatically submit to its authority. But that isn’t always the case. Even those who hold to a high view of Scripture may sometimes fail to obey it. We need to be reminded that the authority of God’s Word isn’t simply a doctrine to be affirmed, but a priority to be pursued.

Israel fell into the trap of holding to a high view of Scripture while failing to abide by its statutes. To them Paul said, “If you bear the name ‘Jew,’ and rely upon the Law, and boast in God, and know His will, and approve the things that are essential, being instructed out of the Law, and are confident that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, a corrector of the foolish, a teacher of the immature, having in the Law the embodiment of knowledge and of the truth, you, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself?

“You who boast in the Law, through your breaking the Law, do you dishonor God? For ‘the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you'” (Rom. 2:17- 21, 23-24).

Israel’s sin led unbelievers to blaspheme God. That’s analogous to our society in which the Lord is constantly ridiculed because of the sins of His people.

You are the only Bible some unbelievers will ever read, and your life is under scrutiny every day. What do others learn from you? Do they see an accurate picture of your God?

Christians will always be maligned, but let it be for righteousness sake, not sin. As Peter said, “Keep your behavior excellent among [unbelievers], so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may on account of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God” (1 Pet. 2:12).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Confess any areas of your life where you are being disobedient to God’s Word.
  • Seek His grace and power to live each day as one who truly respects the authority of God’s Word.

For Further Study

  • Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. What purpose does the Old Testament record of Israel’s punishments serve for us?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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Trusting God’s Word

“The law of the Lord is perfect. . . . The commandment of the Lord is pure. . . . The judgments of the Lord are true; they are righteous altogether” (Ps. 19:7-9).

God’s Word is infallible.

Infallibility refers to the truth of Scripture as a whole, whereas inerrancy focuses on the accuracy of every single word. Like inerrancy, infallibility is grounded in the character of God. God cannot lie and does not change (1 Sam. 15:29). He is thoroughly consistent in everything He does, and His Word reflects those characteristics. The psalmist wrote, “The sum of Thy word is truth, and every one of Thy righteous ordinances is everlasting” (Ps. 119:160). Paul said, “The Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12).

Jesus said He didn’t come to abolish the law or the prophets (sections of the Old Testament) but to fulfill them. He promised that everything in Scripture will be fulfilled (Matt. 5:17-18). John 10:35 declares that the authority of Scripture “cannot be broken.” It is binding and cannot be destroyed, abolished, or done away with. God’s Word is indestructible, authoritative, and infallible.

On a practical level, infallibility means that you can trust the Bible. It will never deceive you or give you counsel that will later prove to be erroneous. That was the confidence of the psalmist when he wrote, “Establish Thy word to Thy servant, as that which produces reverence for Thee. Turn away my reproach which I dread, for Thine ordinances are good. Behold, I long for Thy precepts; revive me through Thy righteousness. May Thy lovingkindnesses also come to me, O Lord, Thy salvation according to Thy word; so I shall have an answer for him who reproaches me, for I trust in Thy word. And do not take the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for I wait for Thine ordinances. So I will keep Thy law continually, forever and ever. And I will walk at liberty, for I seek Thy precepts. I will also speak of Thy testimonies before kings, and shall not be ashamed. And I shall delight in Thy commandments, which I love” (Ps. 119:38-47).

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God that His Word is utterly trustworthy.

For Further Study

  • Memorize Psalm 119:165 as a reminder of the infallibility of God’s Word.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com

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Rallying Around the Word

“Every word of God is tested [pure, flawless]” (Prov. 30:5).

God’s Word is without error.

Inerrancy is a term that conveys the belief that the original writings of Scripture are wholly true in everything they teach— whether doctrine, history, science, geography, geology, or any other discipline or knowledge. It also applies to accurate copies of those original writings.

Inerrancy is an unpopular concept with some people because they believe it isn’t really important. But consider the implications. No Christian would deny that our relationship to Jesus Christ is of utmost importance. How can we know Him except as He is presented in the Bible? He is our Lord and we must obey His commandments (Heb. 5:9). How can we know what He commands if we doubt His Word?

Others reject inerrancy because they think it’s divisive. But inerrancy should be a rallying point for evangelicals, not a dividing point. What unifying factor do we have if we can’t agree on the truth of divine revelation?

Still others withhold judgment on the issue, thinking it’s a technical matter that is best decided by biblical scholars. On the contrary, it is the most basic of all matters. It’s nothing less than asking, “Is there a sure Word from God?”

Inerrancy isn’t simply a matter of theological debate. It’s a matter of God’s character. God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:18); therefore His Word is true. Jeremiah 10:10 says that the Lord is the true God or the God of truth. The apostle John said, “God is true” (John 3:33). And Jesus defined eternal life as knowing the only true God (John 17:3). Christ came so we might “know him that is true . . . the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).

Don’t be shaken by those who attack the integrity of Scripture. As you have opportunity, study any problem passages so you’ll know first-hand what the issues and proposed solutions are. And remember, Scripture was given by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Truth (John 16:13). He cannot err.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • If Psalm 119:12-16 reflects the intent of your heart, read it to the Lord as a prayer of praise and commitment.

For Further Study

  • According to Matthew 22:29 and John 17:17, what was Jesus’ view of Scripture?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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Modern-Day Revelations

“Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3, emphasis added).

Scripture contains everything you need to know for godly living.

For many years I’ve watched with deep concern as a significant number of Christians have drifted from a thoughtful, biblical, God- centered theology to one that is increasingly mystical, non- biblical, and man-centered. One of the most disturbing indicators of this trend is the proliferation of extrabiblical revelations that certain people are claiming to receive directly from God.

Such claims are alarming because they dilute the uniqueness and centrality of the Bible and cause people to lean on man’s word rather than God’s. They imply that Scripture is insufficient for Christian living and that we need additional revelation to fill the gap.

But God’s Word contains everything you need to know for spiritual life and godly living. It is inspired and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness so that you may be fully equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16). What more is necessary?

When the apostle John died, apostolic revelation came to an end. But that written legacy remains as the standard by which we are to test every teacher and teaching that claims to be from God (1 Thess. 5:21; 1 John 4:1). If a teaching doesn’t conform to Scripture, it must be rejected. If it does conform, it isn’t a new revelation. In either case, additional revelation is unnecessary.

God went to great lengths to record and preserve His revelation, and He jealously guards it from corruption of any kind. From Moses, the first known recipient of divine revelation, to the apostle John, the final recipient, His charge remained the same: “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you” (Deut. 4:2; cf., Rev. 22:18-19).

Don’t be swayed by supposed new revelations. Devote yourself to what has already been revealed.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Ask God to guard your heart from confusion and help you to keep your attention firmly fixed on His Word.

For Further Study

  • According to 2 Timothy 4:1-4, why must we preach and uphold God’s Word?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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Dead to Sin

“How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:2).

In Christ, believers are dead to sin.
As a pastor, I frequently encounter people who profess to be believers, yet are living in all kinds of vile sins. The incongruity of people claiming to be believers while living in constant, unrepentant sin was not lost on the apostle Paul. In Romans 6:1 he asked the rhetorical question, “Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase?” In verse 2 he answered his own question by exclaiming “May it never be!”—the strongest, most emphatic negation in the Greek language. It expressed Paul’s horror and outrage at the thought that a true Christian could remain in a constant state of sinfulness. For a person to claim to be a Christian while continuing in habitual sin is absurd and impossible.

Paul goes on in verse 2 to explain why believers cannot continue to live in sin, asking, “How shall we who died to sin still live in it?” His point is that believers, at salvation, died to sin. Therefore, they cannot live in a constant state of sinfulness, because it is impossible to be both dead and alive at the same time. Those who continue in unrepentant sin thereby give evidence that they are spiritually dead, no matter what they may claim.

Unbelievers are “dead in [their] trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1), walking “according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience” (v. 2). Believers, on the other hand, have been “delivered . . . from the domain of darkness, and transferred . . . to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13).

Christians no longer live in the realm of sin, though they still commit sins.

Having a proper understanding of the believer’s relationship to sin is foundational to progressing in holiness. Take comfort today in the reality that sin, though still dangerous, is a defeated foe.

Suggestions for Prayer

  • Praise God who, because of His mercy and love, made us alive together with Christ (Eph. 2:4-5).
  • Ask Him to help you walk worthy of that high calling (Eph. 4:1).

For Further Study

  • Read the following passages: John 8:31; 2 Cor. 13:5; James 2:14-26. Is every profession of faith in Jesus Christ genuine? Explain.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur Copyright © 1997. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, http://www.crossway.com.

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Facing Unbelief

“After the two days He went forth from there into Galilee. For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they themselves also went to the feast. Therefore He came again to Cana of Galilee where He had made the water wine. And there was a royal official whose son was sick at Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come out of Judea into Galilee, he went to Him and was imploring Him to come down and heal his son; for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, ‘Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.’ The royal official said to Him, ‘Sir, come down before my child dies’” (John 4:43–49).

The proverbial statement “a prophet has no honor in his own country” contrasts Jesus’ acceptance by the Samaritans with His general rejection by the Jewish people (1:11). Jesus returned to Galilee knowing that the saying would be proved true in His case.

John’s statement, “so when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him,” does not mean that they believed in Jesus as the Messiah; they welcomed Him merely as a miracle worker.

The Lord’s encounter with the royal official in Cana is just one more example that the faith of many Galileans, like that of many Judeans, was only superficial, curious, non-saving interest. As a result, Jesus issued this stern rebuke: “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.”

Ask Yourself

  • Has familiarity with Jesus robbed you of recognizing the wonder of His ministry in and around you? How can a person guard against this natural tendency, living daily and actively in His presence while not growing ho-hum with the work He does and the blessings He provides?

From Daily Readings from the Life of Christ, Vol. 1, John MacArthur. Copyright © 2008. Used by permission of Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 60610, http://www.moodypublishers.com.

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